Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Another Step in the Right Direction

Okay, I have not admitted this to many people, because I am embarrassed about it. But here goes, I have massive dental anxiety. Borderline panic attacks even THINKING about a visit. I think it is probably because I have always felt ashamed about my teeth, and I feel guilty, and at fault for having poor teeth. My teeth are, I guess, just genetically weaker and more susceptible to cavities, decay, etc. Because I didn't take the best care of my teeth that I could, my teeth have had further issues because of it. But growing up, when my mom would take me for a cleaning, every time (without fail it seems) I would have at least one cavity, or would need a retainer, or something that would no doubt cause me pain. So over time I equated all dental visits with loads of pain. Pain that I couldn't escape. Pain that I had to suffer through and deal with. And somewhere along the way, I guess I learned that I deserved the pain, and that it was somehow punishment for being "bad." (I really am messed up, huh?) Anyways, so when I grew up, I quit going to the dentist. I lived in fear that a dentist would discover my "badness" and I would be "punished," and everybody would know what a "bad" person I was. So the only time I went to the dentist, was when I had a problem. I lived with an impacted, abcessed wisdom tooth for WEEKS before I called a dentist, because I was so afraid of the pain (because that made total sense at the time) that the DENTIST would inflict. And naturally, since I was only going when I had a problem (read, every other year or so), every time I went, something painful had to be done. So I was proving (wrongly) that dentists hurt you every time. Now, I realize this may sound silly, it may sound stupid. And to those of you who think that, please turn and thank God that you have never suffered from dental anxiety. You don't know how fortunate you are to have missed out on this.
Now, I refused to give this anxiety to my kids. I have not taken them to the dentist as often as I should, but I also only speak about the dentist positively. We talk about all the tools a dentist uses, what they are for, and I emphasize how the dentist wants to help our teeth and our mouth. The whole time I was freaking out in my mind even thinking about it. At any rate, last week we were told that my hubby's company was cutting our dental insurance. So, I frantically raced to get the kids appointments before the end of the month. J-Dogg had an appt last week. He needs massive work done, under a general anesthetic, to the tune of $7,000 upfront. Yeah, so we aren't sure when we will be able to do that. I mean, we are like most people, we don't have $7,000 laying around, shoot, we don't have it period, that's over 2 months of salary for us! But, we are working on it, and praying, and hoping that something comes through. We don't know what, but I have to believe that because we are doing what we are supposed to, that we will be blessed somehow. Today, the other three kids had cleanings scheduled. L did great, she has been to a dentist before, and had fillings before. Unfortunately, she needed three fillings, two had worn/broken/fallen out and needed to be replaced, and she had a small cavity in the back. Because all three were rather shallow, she didn't require novacaine, and was wonderful. B needed two fillings, also shallow, and did beautifully. And Baby R? His teeth are perfect. At the last moment, I noticed that the office did walk-ins, so before the kids appointments, I asked if they could squeeze me in. This was unheard of for me, but in a way it was actually easier, because I had no time to mull it over and think about it beforehand. After the kids were finished, I had my hubby take them all back out to the play area. I knew I was going to be anxious and whatnot, and I wanted to be able to concentrate on just myself. Plus, I didn't want to frighten the kids, should I be in pain again. And it was painful. I should have known. My mouth has been sore for months. I have had bleeding gums, sensitive teeth, pain when biting, etc. So I KNEW there would be pain involved. Surprisingly, there were no cavities. The dentist said my teeth looked healthy. However, my gums were in horrible condition. He wanted to do a deep cleaning, also known as a scaling and root planing. That did not sound pleasant. I was told I would need novacaine. Now I KNEW it would be painful. I hate shots, I hate needles. I mean, I have given birth four times and never received an epidural or anything else, because of my fear of needles. Come to think of it, I would rather give birth again, than visit a dentist. The anxiety and fear are that strong. Plus, after you give birth, you get a baby. After you visit the dentist? You get a sticker, and a new toothbrush. Hmm, easy choice here to see which has the better reward ;) Anyways, I accepted the deep cleaning, knowing full well the pain it would involve, not only today, but for a couple weeks afterwards. I practiced some visualization techniques, and the dentist did a topical anesthetic first (praise him for that!) so I guess it wasn't TOO terrible. I received 12 or 16 injections, waited for my lips to fall off, and then began the procedure. It was uncomfortable, and at times it was painful.  But you know, overall, I am glad I got it done. I would like to keep my teeth for awhile, so I guess it is a fair enough trade, right? And I feel so blessed to have had such a wonderfully caring and gentle dentist and dental assistant. I have had dentists before who were very rough, and straight down to business. I really feel like this man and his assistant were concerned not only about my oral health, but the rest of me too. What a difference that made!

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